It’s the most wonderful time of the year. At least that is what we would all like to think this year. 2020 has been..dare I say it…unprecedented. It has been a year of confusion, chaos, frustration, fear, and devastation. The Covid-19 health pandemic set everyone on edge with questions of how long this would last and how many people will get sick and what are we supposed to do to keep food on the table, the lights turned on, and still help to keep the hospitals and medical networks able to function? Everyday we hear the words “Stay home, stay safe.” and “We have to work together to flatten the curve.” People are tired of living with more questions than answers.
As if a global health crisis wasn’t enough we were then met with social unrest as people cried out for justice and changes in governmental systems. Protesters filled the streets in city after city leading to riots, arrests, and a perpetual rise in tension all over the country.
And top that off with one of the closest and ugliest Presidential elections this country has even seen. States that have normally been known for voting in one direction completely shifting the tides. Record breaking voter turn out both in person and via mail-in and absentee ballots. The nation still holding its breath as we wait the final outcome due to run off elections not scheduled to take place until after the new year.
With all this tension and turmoil it would be easy to fall into the thought that hope just doesn’t exist anymore. However, on this first week of the advent season I have been reminded that hope is in fact abundant.
In Mark 13 Jesus is talking to his disciples. He knows his time on Earth is coming to an end and he is doing all he can to get his point across to them. He has told them he will be leaving them soon but the work is not done. Peter, James, John, and Andrew are confused. It’s not surprising that they would like a little bit more information, like how are they going to know when all this has taken place? How will they be able to tell when Jesus is coming back?
Jesus tells them:
Now concerning that day or hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven nor the Son—but only the Father. Watch! Be alert! For you don’t know when the time is coming. It is like a man on a journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, gave each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to be alert. Therefore be alert, since you don’t know when the master of the house is coming—whether in the evening or at midnight or at the crowing of the rooster or early in the morning. Otherwise, when he comes suddenly he might find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be alert!Mark 13:32-37
Jesus is telling his disciples that even though he is leaving there is still work to be done. There are lives to be transformed, a message to be shared. They are to be ready for the return but this didn’t give them permission to sit idle as they waited staring up at the sky. No, they were to be busy at the tasks left for them, lest they get caught sleeping with a world of people needing to know the hope that can be found in the Savior Jesus Christ.
Christmas is a fantastic time of year. It is a celebration of new life. There is just something about the birth of a baby that infuses hope into everything. There is a natural sense of wonder and hope for the future. Songs like “Oh Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, and “Hark the Herold Angel Sing” remind us that the little baby Jesus came into the world in the most innocent of fashions with the ultimate plan of salvation. He is the hope. That little baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger with his mother and earthly father looking on in wonder is our hope. And he is a reminder that there is work still to be done. Each year that we celebrate another Christmas season we are reminded that Christ has yet to return. Just as He told his disciples to be alert, Christmas reminds us we are to be alert, be prepared, and be busy at work until the Master returns from His journey.
So friends, be alert, by all means, be alert to the world around you. But also have hope because the best is yet to come.
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”– Desmond Tutu